UVA’s Volume on YouTube

I wrote a little while back about UnitedVisualArtists’ new work, Volume, that is being shown at the V&A at the moment. Joel from UVA sent me a mail to say they have uploaded a clip on YouTube (the one here), as well as some videos of their other work.

There’s also a higher quality MP4 version on the UVA site if you would like to see it in all its glory.

UPDATE: 24.12.2006 I managed to go and see Volume at the V&A whilst I was in London this week. So, I can confirm that the sound on the video is the audio that is being played by the installation, but I’m not sure it’s the live recording on the video.

It is reactive, more than interactive. You can definitely tell that you are affecting the installation in some way – mainly by bringing ‘dormant’ poles into life. I think I would have like to have had a bit more interaction, but I don’t think it would work so well in this particular installation. The reason is that I think a cacophony would be possible and this piece is all about mystery and beauty.

The main strength of it (apart from the very high production levels) is the slightly alien, mysterious feeling it evokes. As you can see in the video, some people stand and watch, others walk up to the poles and stand very close, looking at them intently, stroking them. Others walk through the ‘forest’ of poles and it does make for a strange social connection. I stood in one corner and watched the people for a while too – it felt very much like a scene from Close Encounters or watching the apes in 2001 encounter the monolith. It is very mesmerising and I could have stayed much longer just looking at the people.

The Power of Red Buttons

Having just mistyped a domain name and been sent to one of those really irritating ‘parked domain’ search pages, I saw this pop-up.

The Fart Button Pop-Up

Normally, I wouldn’t click on anything screaming out “spyware, click me!”. But look at it. A nice shiny red button that promises a fart gag. An invitation to play if ever there was one.

I couldn’t resist. Of course it took me to a site that wanted to download some kind of nasty .exe file (I like being on a Mac). No danger for me, then, but one of the best junk pop-ups I have seen for a while. There’s got to be a lesson in interactivity and marketing there. Somewhere. Or am I just really juvenile?

Low tech accidents

Whilst looking through some old archives of work (and also the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive) I re-found a gif that I made for my very first polaine.com website. I remember wanting to create something quite different and I rendered this out (of After Effects of all things) by accident.

Not Artificial Life

I put it on my homepage and everyone always assumed it was some kind of artificial life thing I had carefully coded. Actually I think it was some blurry squares that got munged when the gif was created. I still like it though, and it’s a good example of simple accidents turning out interesting results.

The Omnium Blog

Omnium Blog

I’ve written before about my work with the Omnium Project and the Omnium Creative Network, but it has been needing another home…

My colleagues from Omnium and I met up in Berlin for a conference and worked out lots of exciting plans for the future, which will steadily unveil.

One big change is that the Omnium Interface has been massively overhauled (with some very cool additions) and will be released as open-source. We hope people will start contributing some cross-funcitonality with other platforms too (like Moodle, which although it has some great management elements and is also open-source, is pig ugly).

So the new home for many of my thoughts and writings about education, is Omnium’s blog that we have finally got up (about three years late). It’s pretty vanilla at the moment, but we hope it will give a bit of a window on the interesting work going on.

UVA’s Volume at the V&A

A bit of cross-posting from my Bauhaus blog here, but worth it:

Volume installation - Photo: John Adrian

Chris O’Shea over at Pixelsumo has written up a good description of a new work, Volume, by United Visual Artists and onepointsix.

Volume responds to human movement and creates and audio-visual environment from the pillars installed in the V&A‘s John Madjeski garden. Go and check out the links for the technical details and more descriptions of the project (including the behind the scenes photos.

For me, though, the best thing is looking at the blissful, engaged expressions on people’s faces in the pictures (click on that picture to see it full size). That should be your aim as interaction designers/artists. Don’t forget it.

UPDATE: Shane Walter from onedotzero added some more info in his comments which you should check out.

Photograph by John Adrian.

Analogue In, Digital Out

I just read Brendan Dawes’s new book, Analogue In, Digital Out, in one day. A day when I was teaching all day too. I even stayed up late to finish it. It’s not often that happens.

His approach is very much about diving in, pulling things apart, connecting things together and seeing what happens. Kind of a Jamie Oliver of interaction design really. It reminded me very much of the approach we took at Antirom. It’s really about playing with these new forms, technologies and cultures and trying to discern some interesting features about them and the underlying language.

Any interaction designer, all students and pretty much anyone else involved in coming up with ideas for a living should have a copy I reckon.